This magazine is not only our number 40, but is issued at around the sixtieth anniversary of the demise of the old G.W.R. On 1st January 1948 the Great Western Railway together with the other three grouped companies became British Railways, part of an integrated collection of state transport encompassing road, rail, air and water - for passenger and freight.
Today it is hard to imagine road haulage under state control, and indeed it remained so for only a short time. Once independent hauliers reappeared with all the roads at their disposal the poor old railways were sure to be hit hard. And so it was. The rest, as they say, is history.
But the spirit of the old companies, and the Great Western in particular, still lingers on today – 60 years later. Why should this be? Is it the fact that at one time being an engine driver was a vocation nearly all schoolboys aspired to? Is it the fact that the railways were a totally invaluable mode of transport taking us to school, work or on our holidays and taking most of the Nation's produce from supplier to consumer? Or is it the fact that on the railway you could watch the world's leading-edge technology flash by, something special and emotive? I would say it was all those things, and that is why the image of the railway of yesterday still evokes so much enthusiasm after all these years, and indeed why the "Friends" has a worthwhile part to play today.
The shock news on the Severn Valley was the disaster of the washout of the line on 19th June. We were at Kidderminster that evening during our regular Tuesday "bash" and saw some dreadfully black clouds in the direction of Bridgnorth. Soon the black clouds took on the look of boiling porridge with clouds swirling about like those on a Van Gogh painting. That was when the rain really started.
The Friends committee decided to put out our donation bottle and collect for the Severn Valley Flood Appeal. We are pleased to report that our group has forwarded cheques for £450 to the appeal. The committee would like to thank all who donated in the Friends' bottle. The S.V.R still needs more funds. As well as the cost of repairs there has been a loss of revenue of £1,800,000 while the line has been partially closed. Please support the appeal if you can. You can donate via the web on www.svr.co.uk/appeal
Keith told us that we need to clear the yard near the storage shed as much as possible to make room for the arrival of materials for rebuilding flood damage. This resulted in a massive purge by Bob Brown who has removed all rubbish and consigned scrap to the scrap metal pile and rotten wood to the bonfire. November 5th should have quite a good blaze this year!
Let's hope this good start will herald a mass clear up of the remaining area, not least because some treasures get rediscovered and can be put away safely in the dry. One such item is the pump trolley which has now found a temporary home in our storage shed. This item was carefully restored at Highley many years ago but has since deteriorated somewhat and has lost a tooth from its drive gear. It ought to be in Highley museum rather than out in the rain. Another job for the future.
Mick Yarker. October 2007